Sewing for Change

. November 1, 2014.
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Julie Kurfis’s Etsy shop, Jenalee Designs, was born out of two impulses. First, she saw ribbon headbands in a store and thought that she could make some like that for her daughters. Second, she quickly realized that she could use her online store to raise awareness and money to end human trafficking.

For the past few years, Julie participated in One Dress, One Month through her church, Westgate Chapel. During the month of April, participants wear the same dress, scarf or shirt every day to raise awareness of human trafficking. She was horrified when she learned that the FBI identified Toledo as a top hub for human trafficking, and that the average age of a child forced into slavery in the United States is 12 to 14 years old.

This struck a chord for Julie. For 13 years, she worked with middle school students as a teacher and a principal. Now she homeschools her daughters, who are 9 and 12. She thought about her daughters and all of her students, and decided to become more involved in ending human trafficking.

Commitment to the Cause

Julie, who grew up in Perrysburg, has collected items to take to The Daughter Project, a non-profit organization operating a group home in Toledo for girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking. She volunteered at Free to Laugh, a comedy show fundraiser for The Daughter Project. And then came her idea to open an Etsy store.

“I really wanted it to be about helping,” said Julie. “I thought if it’s for a larger purpose, it can’t fail. It’s not about me, it’s about awareness.”

Julie donates a portion of each sale to The Daughter Project and Abolish International, now called Hope for Justice, which operates in the United States, the United Kingdom and Cambodia to end human trafficking. Currently, she sells ribbon headbands, purses, art and journal portfolios. Prominently featured on her Etsy site are links to these charities and other information about human trafficking. Julie hopes that even if shoppers don’t buy from her store, they will click on the links and learn more about this issue.

This past April, Julie auctioned off items in her shop and donated the full purchase amount to The Daughter Project. She plans to continue auctions in April, and would like to spend more time volunteering at The Daughter Project. But her spare time is filled with directing the choir of their homeschooling co-op and singing at Westgate Chapel.And sewing is her hobby as well as a job.

“I really enjoy sewing, and I work to make things for myself, too.” 

Visit her Etsy shop at
etsy.com/shop/jldesigns4hope and
Facebook page,
www.facebook.com/jenaleedesigns. More information on The Daughter Project at
www.thedaughterproject.org